Thursday, January 15, 2015

City Lit - Chicago, IL

City Lit - Chicago, IL
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This place is what I call a rising star.  It's only been here a little over two years but it seems like everything is aligned for a great future at this independent bookstore.  A knowledgeable and friendly owner, engaged in the community with store events, bright and airy spaces, and a super location.  Oh, and it's filled with lots of books.  If you ask me, this all adds up to a winning recipe at this indie.

This one-level bookstore is located in the Logan Square area of Chicago, a little north and west of the loop.  It has been beautifully remodeled and feels very new, but the space itself has been here a long time and was at one time a cigar store MANY decades ago.  The store is very active with author events, hosting as many as three a week on site.  If there is going to be an event requiring more space, they have a great relationship with the Logan Square Auditorium.  On the Saturday morning of my visit, there was a lady doing a weekly story time with her guitar.  The store was packed with kids and parents.  Another great way to bring customers into the store.  There are some sidelines, including unique greeting cards, but so far books are able to carry the business at this indie.  At this time, the store only offers new books but Teresa, the owner, has not ruled out the possibility of offering used books.  This would include some kind of book buy-back program and might offer store credit or cash in return. This is consistent with what many other independents do who offer used books.

I had an absolutely wonderful talk with Teresa on my visit and even on this last Saurday before Christmas with a bustle of business, she was able to patiently talk to me about the trials and challenges of opening an independent bookstore.  Things are going great here thanks to a location that is convenient for pedestrian traffic.  In Teresa's words, "Everyone must live across the street because that's where they tell me they all come from!"  There is also good traffic from tourists and people visiting from foreign countries.  The Lula CafĂ© is just down the street and is a destination point for many outside the area which also benefits the bookstore.  Teresa is very encouraged and optimistic about the store.  Even during last winter's polar vortex, the store was able to stay open and continued to see business when many others were not so fortunate during that time.

It's always interesting to hear the stories of how people start a bookstore and what they did previously.  Teresa was in health care, probably a secure employment.  I'm sure when she committed to this move she had skeptics.  Doesn't everyone who opens a bookstore?  Thank goodness she made the move.  No doubt, the people in the Logan Square area are glad she did.  Check out one of the best indies in Chicago, you'll be glad you did.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Son, Philipp Meyer.  Epic, multi-generational saga spanning the 1850s to present in Texas.  Evolution of a family and challenges with Indians, Mexicans, cattle and oil.  Good historical fiction.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Let The Great World Spin, Colum McCann.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell.

Great front window display.  

I always see unique signs in bookstores that can be relevant no matter the location of the store.  

View just inside the front entrance looking toward the back of the store.  

Just a few of the staff picks.  

A great selection of greeting cards.  

This area was later filled with children and parents for a weekly story time.  

A portion of the children's section in the rear of the store.  

View of the store from the back looking toward the front.  

A few of the sidelines.  

AHH!  I always love finding a good chair to sit and browse a book!

Go ahead.  Live life on the edge.  Be naughty.  Buy a BANNED book.

More staff picks.  

You won't see these offered in every bookstore.  

With Teresa, the fine owner at City Lit.

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